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Report 06 März 31, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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Did You know that? Sparrows are tasty!

This Saturday (29.03) our patron,profesor of German studies, took me,my two compagnons,another professor and some students who are learning German toa bar in Hanno so that we could get to know each other better.Its name is „Ogaramura“ and it is located near the Hanno railwaystation.

If You are in Hanno,please visit it cause it’s totally worth it. It is a rather traditional place where you are supposed to take off your shoes at

the entrance and leave them there.But thats not all. You have to sit on the heightened tatami-covered floor on thin pillow which,after some

time,gave me a hard one (I mean, how long can You sit on your knees without moving significantly?).

The tables in front of you are also very low,the walls are covered with red lampignons and broad paperstripes where the different things you can order are written with ink and a brush.The waiters are wearing kimono-styled dresses and head-as well as waistbands.

I imagine the mid-nineteenth century Edo to be a place with partly this atmosphere.

Our patron wanted to give us a taste of the real Japan and I think he totally suceeded.

We were free to order what we wanted so there was a lot of beer and my newly discovered favorite beverage (I’ve forgotten the exact name but it was) green applejuice with sake. I think it didn’t contain that much alcohol because I kept ordering it diligently and was still very far away from being drunk when we left at approximatly 12. pm.Or perhaps I already have enought practice :-).

Be that as it may, we also ordered a lot of food.Normal stuff,like okonomiyaki (Japanese pancake),all kinds of grilled meat on spits, raw fish (unfortunately I hate tako (octopus) and ika (calamari) as well es ebi (pawn),cooked or raw,because there was more of it on the plate than what i love,f.e raw thuna) and special stuff: raw horse meat (which is very,very delicious) and, prepare yourselves: yaki suzune (grilled sparrows with sauce).

sparrows grilled

I was the one who ordered it. I know, it might, to someone,seem pretty sick or at least unusual. Unusual was what I had asked for so there

it was. 5 sparrows (with their complete heads still in place), each on its own spit,covered with sauce.

I looked at them,they looked back on me with their empty eyesockets.

So I asked our patron what to do with them. He told me to just eat up everything and gave me a demonstration by eating one himself.

Then,I took one,grinned at it and,yes,I ate it. Everybody was watching me with disbelieve.The bones broke easyly under my jaws,the bone-marrow along with the,I think,brain or what was left after the grilling,gave it a very refined taste.

Apart from drinking and eating we also talked a lot.

I practice my Japanese and learned a lot about f.e the history of the Surugadai University (which I am going to post on my blog somewhen later) and campus life.

We were talking the whole time and,after we were returned to our residencial accomodation I had the wish that it had lasted a little bit longer (until dawn,for example,but that’s always the case with pleasant things).But, I’m looking forward to the next time we will be doing something like this again.




Report 05 März 28, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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Here it is,as promised,the report on what I did on Thursday.

In the morning, I was going to have some breakfast and was headed towards the mensa when I realized a bunch of people which turned out to be a filming crew making takes for something.

So,I went back to get my own camera to film their endeavors. Unfortunately,I was noticed by a production assistant who told me politely that „kamera dame desu!.I asked him,in Japanese,what they were exactely doing and he told me that they were doing takes for a J-Drama,something about school-life entitled „Gakusen“? (sorry,am not good with names) which is scheduled to start on the 19th of April on Nihon TV (the forth channel of Japan),so,if you can find that on the net,please enjoy :-D.

I’ve asked someone of the University staff about that and he told me that it is quite common for J-Drama crews to make film-shootings at the Surugadai because of the landscape and atmosphere. Normaly,they have to pay for it but sometimes a mentioning in the appendix is sufficient,probably,because is a kind of advertisement for the University.

Well,I had to find myself a less obvious place to do some filming anyway.Afterwards,I spontanously decided to go on a trip to Tokyo do have a first glance on the biggest city (or metropolitan area) besides Mexico City, in the world.

So I jumped on the bus in direction to Hanno (this bus is free for students of the Surugadai University) where I met a compatriot who gave my some advice concerning buying tickets or where to change subway trains. So,after buying the so-called „Suica“ card which costs about 2000 Yen and has already,if I am not mistaken, a 1500 Yen deposit (you have to know that there are several (!) compagnies like for example JR who are operating the public transportation system in Tokyo and the rest of the country,so,sometimes, you have to by two different cards/tickets….) I was on my way.This card is really handy, it is sufficient to put it on a special tablet adjusted to the entrance area to the underground,when you arrive at your point of destination you do the same thing when leaving,the exact transportation fare is then taken from you credit (which you can increase by transfering extra money through special terminals which is very easy even for foreigners,if they are fluent in English,that is)

In Ikebukuro I changed trains and rode to Ueno. Ueno is a very crowded and loud place but if you are looking for f.e interesting clothes (if you fit in them that is,which I don’t for several reasons f.e height…..) this is one of your places.

I asked my way to Akihabara were I first went into a shop called „Animate“.

Well, if I was a Manga/Anime/Videogamefan,which I am not or on a very,very limited scale only,this would be as if I had died and went straight to heaven. Yes,heaven. It had,if I am not mistaken, about 7 floors. In the basement you can find Hentais (japanese pornographic

comics often consumated by men who probably never had any kind of girlfriend.At least, I wouldn’t be shocked if they hadn’t.). The next 3 floors are filled with Manga,partially also with

so-called „Light Novels“ (this is something sometimes based on a Manga or Anime,basically it’s a short novel containing 2-4 pictures,I bought 2 volumes entiteled „Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu“ (The Melancholy of H.S) which I am going to read in order to improve my Japanese…),in the next 3 floors you can find computer-games,soundtracks,DVDs and stuff.Stuff,that is,merchandise.Fans buy that to enrich the producers and licencees and to express their allegiance to some fictional characters.If this are useful gizmos like jewlery or,ok,even posters I thinks its ok but who would buy a 30cm dust-attracting figure of (insert name of Anime character here)?

For 20000 Yen? I’m sure someone will,because this place is crowded,I guess,always.

Afterwards I went to „Softmap“ to buy myself a Nintendo DS and a program called „Kanji sono mama ni“.

This is handy indeed. You can use the touchscreen of the DS with this program to draw Kanji on it,after recognizing the Kanji it will tell you the pronounciation and meaning in English. Here,I encountered a problem.You can pay with Mastercard only (along with several Japanese cards,Visa or American Express).Normaly, I would have one,but the German Citibank messed things up so I still don’t have any. So, I asked the employees where the next Citibank was.He told me to go to the Tokyo Main Railwaystation. I walked there by foot,asking now and than about the way.

People would then normaly tell me how to get there with the metro and I would tell them that „arukitai“ (I want to go by foot).

They would than glance at me in a flabbergasted kind of way and than point towards its direction.

I don’t know how long it took me to get there.At some point, I even got some company in the shape of a Japanese woman who told me that she was also heading in my direction and could show me the way. We had a nice conversation (in Jap.) and at some point I asked her something that had been troubling me since some time. Are there any dustbins in Tokyo? No,there are not,only a very few.Why is that?

Well,in 1995 there was this terroristic attack by Aum Shinryko (with sarin gas) and,since some of it was emptied into dustbins since than,there aren’t any.Was I to carry my empty bottle of green tea along with me? Yes,but that was fine, I could through it away at home.

Ah,soooo desu ka? Omoshiroi….I smiled weakly,but shorly afterwards found some of the very rare possibilities to through away your waste anyway.For the Citibank, it was still some way to walk,but I asked at a Koban (a small police station) where the policeman took out a very helpful map and explained the route to me,also in Japanese. I’m really happy with that, if they would switch to English I would really be angered,but until now everyone is trying to stick to Japanese (or,perhaps they don’t have any fluent proficiency of any other language and don’t want to embarass themselves,but either way, it’s ok with me), talk slower and try to explain everything to me.

The Citibank is located somewhere near the outerskirts of the Imperial Garden. I stepped into it and was promptly asked by a guard where I was headed to.The word for ATM didn’t come back into my mind so I asked him to wait,drew out my electronic dictionary and looked it up. I than turned to him and read him the 5-6 Kanjis through Hiragana. He than said:“Ah,Ai-ti-mu (ATM) desu ka? Asoko de gozaimsu…

Some Japanese words are surely bound to fall into oblivion because the English/some other language counterpart is much handier.

So,after having gotten some money, I bought some onigiri and,on my way back to Akihabara stepped spontanously in to a Tenrikyo church.

There,I told the woman at the office that I was interested in Japanese religions (which is true) and would therefore like to get some brochures and pieces of information f.e how many adherents there are (which she didn’t knew but Wikipedia knows…..)

That was quite interesting although,unfortunately, I didn’t understand everything she told me.

Back in Akihabara,I went again into „Softmap“,bought a silver coloured Nintendo DS and „Kanji sono mama ni“

No question,Akihabara is indeed, interesting and I am definitively going to visit is during the next months.

On my way back to Hanno, I experienced a kind of small rush hour,meaning the train being packed with people,also meaning that I had to stand for about 30 minutes. I admire the Japanese,who are propably used to it, for their stamina. Personaly,having to stand still is something I am trying to avoid.

That wasn’t all. When I arrived in Hanno I realized that the bus was not driving any more (since 5 p.m) and the bus stop was closed with a fence. Or at least,they had tried to shut it close. Finding a way through literary everywhere is my speciality but I had to walk for about 30 minutes nevertheless.

But,that’s ok,even walking around is great because you can discover interesting things literary everywhere,which I did. The results I will post in new categories over the next days,until then,have some fun enjoying the rest of my blog!

Report 04 März 27, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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Hello back!

Unfortunately, I didn’t have any internet until today so here’s a short reaccount of what

happened yesterday.About what has happed today I will write tomorrow and,hopefully,from there on regularily and always more or less up to date.

First something about my flight. It wasn’t as bad as I had imagined.To be honest,it was great.

The flight to London was…well, the weather was so terrible they had a layer of anti-frost spray

put onto the wings. For dinner there were two pre-packed pieces of sandwich (something containing chutney,cheddar,vegetables)

which I enjoyed very much,tea or coffee and a biscuit covered with chocolate.

The landing was….not so pleaseant, we had some turbulencies but I have to admit, London is really vast and interesting even from above.

We landed in Heathrow where we had to walk for about 25 minutes to get to our next flight in direction to Tokyo.

At the security check we had to remove even our shoes for fear of a terroristic attack. The interesting thing is, I have never before seen so many orthodox Jews gathered at one place in my live (they are quite easy to recognize,at least the men….).

The flight to Tokyo was in a very huge Boeing maschine. I had a place at the window and was seated next to a Scot and a Japanese.

The Scot turned out to be a very talkative guy who is working as a navigator for Shell and was heading to Guam because of his job.

I would like to spend some words about the service. It was really ok. First, there was a Japanese-style meal (I took the beef-teriyaki)

later, the Scot ordered a big drink and got 2 small bottles of Gin along with 2 small cans of tonic and so did I.

Gone was my anxiety concerning flying. Later on, I helped myself to some more.

At about 7 o’clock the lights were turned of and the windows where covered and,after all the Gintonic,sleeping was no contest.

This is probably the reason I’ve forgotten to get a jetlag.

To see Japan from above is really something to write home about and the landing was smooth and pleaseant.

At the Narita airport,we were photographed and had our fingerprints taken,but this didn’t take long and the attendants were

quite polite.We got our baggage,went throught customs and were picked up by a Japanese girl whose nickname is Hanna.

She seed to it that our baggage was given to a special service company who specialized itself to deliver such baggage to f.e hotels, afterwards she took us three along with her to Saitama with the railways.

That took us 2 hours. Afterwards,we were greeted by Akashi-sensei, who is our patron,given some pieces of information concerning the next days and lead to our rooms.

About my room there will be more later,it is really special,I would rather compare it to a classy hotel room…

Later on, we went to the „7“, a supermarket and bought some food and to the Japanese version of Idea which is called „Crainz Home“

(perhaps it was meant to be „Heinz“?) to buy some basic equipement like shampoo. I have not only bought that, but also 24 cans of green tea for about 8 Euro an a lan cable,a cup,chopsticks,a plate and a dustbin. Yes, they really have a lot of stuff You might need when moving to Japan for some time.

Afterwards, we rewarded our guide, Hanna with some things I have bought back in Germany,3 bars of chocolate (partially melted because of the higher temperature in Japan….but,hey,it has traveled over 15000 km,that’s something worth mentioning…), a Faber Castel mechanical pencil and a „Gaigel Binokel“ (a card game with drawings in the Württembergian tradition).I think she liked it,I mean,she gave me her e-mail adress,so we might stay in touch.

So,this was all for Wednesday,more is still to come,so stay tuned!

Report 03 März 24, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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Well, tomorrow’s the big day,
at precisely 11.35 a.m I will border on the British Airways plane in direction to London,
from there, at about 14 o’clock, we will border on the next flight which will take horrible
12 hours…..
The problem is, I am quite afraid of flying,I guess. It’s irrational because the possibility
to get killed in a car crash (or,alternatively run over by an idiot) is many times higher….Well,be that as it may, after
all I went through to come this far (including having to do all the necessary shopping) I would be
extremly crossed about dying a an airplane crash. You have propably already guessed that I don’t fly very often.
Last time I flew somewhere was that flight back in 2000 or so in direction to Krakow with exactly the same Swiss Airways plane that
somewhen later fatally crashed near Zurich.
I remember nothing of if because I took advantage of the bar. About a bottle of wine,I think,for a 2 hour flight.
Theoretically I would have to drink about six bottles to calm my nerves and, thankfully, pass out after two and,hopefully,
awake in Japan,sober,because the Immigration or whatever office is taking a picture of you and
your fingerprints (which propably means that I should wear gloves and cover my face when commiting a crime in Japan)
And besides, I would consider it very inpolite myself if s.o arrived in my country and, instead of saying anything useful or nice,
Well,somehow I will have to overcome that anxiousness. Keep Your fingers crossed,please!

Report 02 März 20, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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My birthday?

Let’s forget about that, it was for one thing nothing to write home (or somewhere else) about and, for another, somethingwhich is better forgotten about.Imagine a day when you get virtually nothing done, it is cold, it rains, you get wet from head to your sneakersand, after you get home and would like to lament your fate someone you don’t want to see bursts in (without invitation, no, you don’t need one to visit me, but the 2% of people I don’t like need two…..) and jabbers for 2 hours or so about stuff…. You get the point. My brother bought me a present, it consisted of a small treasure chest-like box and some self-written tokens for things I might want/need or neither/nor, but which I would buy myself nevertheless. That really lifted my spirits.  Additionally,  today I have gotten a wonderful, totally unexpected self-painted birthday card from my friend Panagiota and I’m grinning all over so life is not soooo bad at all :-).You are probably wondering what I am doing right now.Right now, I’m admiring the visa sticker pasted into my passport. It is pastel-coloured, apart from my name, birthday and other important pieces of information it contains (on the top) the words „Japan Visa“ and its Japanese translation written in some really stylish signs I haven’t partly seen yet (at least no in this form) , two cherry  blossoms and, on the right side,a picture of me even more horrible than usually on biometric photos.Yes, I’ve gotten my visa ,and yes, it only took 1 day (probably one 1 hour….), I have gotten it yesterday.As I’ve already mentioned I’ve been told that it „would take 5 days“.I’m wondering if they are telling this everybody transfer the impression of working under intense pressure when I can’t imagine that there are more than 10 people per day wanting anything more time-demanding than a visa.But, they could, at least deliver me from my eminent stress instead of increasing it. Perhaps it’s fun.Imagine someone who has delayed his flight and had to pay for it and gets his visa the next day…no wonder the consulate offices are shielded with plexiglass.Well, whatever, the day before yesterday, on Tuesday, I marched into the consulate, positioned myself in front of the office and grinned at the member of staff I had been dealing with the whole time.When he saw me , he turned suddenly on his heels and became very busy, I saw him handing my passport to his co-worker, which was female, and she in turn handed it to me.Also, she explained to me that, although on the visa, it is written that my number of re-entries is multiple I would have to reapply for each one nevertheless. Ok, why doesn’t it say so but wakatta.At least, this is done.Now that I know how quickly a visa can be issued (one of my comrades indeed waited only for one hour) I will,then next time I’ll be in need of a visa, apply for one, sit down at their lobby table and start reading the Asahi Shinbun while waiting for it.Then I will tell them that this time, my life and the lives of my future grand-children depend on  it, but, the faster they get the job done the earlier I will go.It is, I think, a prejudice that Asians in general and Japanese in particular are more diligent people than us Europeans.At least, their civil servants are, if I am not mistaken, not. Or perhaps they have already assimilated.

Report 01 März 16, 2008

Posted by Izabela in Misc.
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Greeting to You all!
Although my web log is still far from being completed I decided to make my first entry anyway.
It will be in English, although I intend to make two additional pages in German and Polish, but for that, I will have to find out how that works, first, so ,for now, this should do the trick.
At the moment, I’m still doing all the packing stuff, f.e deciding which clothes to take along with me, which books
and so on. That’s no big deal and going fine.
What is not going fine is the fact that i still haven’t got my visa.
Why is that? Is it because I’m chaotic? Lazy? NO! It’s because I’ve only gotten my so called “Certificate of Eligibility” just yesterday.
This is hilarious, because everyone else, that is, everyone who is no living in a hick town somewhere in the backward Swabian Alps,
got it over two days earlier. Yes, it was all by “express, certified mail”.
So, where’s the problem now?
Simple, at the Japanese consulate in Munich they told me something like, oh, normally ,it takes about 5 days (guess what, next Friday is,
of cause, a holyday ,as well as the Monday after that, my flight is on, oh yes ,Tuesday…..) but we might get that ready in time, on Thursday.
Wonderful, I was just about to relax after the stress of buying stuff which will last me for a year,
moving back from Munich almost by myself, having my car crashed (although absolutely not by my fault….),
having stupid people racking my nerves for no particular reason,
the house we’re still living in is getting renovated each morning and I still at this precise moment have to write a term paper for Chinese Studies.
So, tomorrow, on my 23th birthday, after having awaken at 6.30 o’clock, I will rush to Munich in order to apply for a visa.
Than, after having been told to wait I will, probably very tired and desperate, return to hick city Münsingen and pray to
GOD that they’ll make it in time.
I will probably not sleep very well for reason of uncertainty.
Probably it will turn out fine in the end, but well, it’s my mental health you know.
If not, than I can’t delay my flight either. Either I loose the paid money OR I try my luck as an illegal immigrant.
A asked the guy at the consulate on the phone out of curiosity if the Japanese authorities would arrest me in that case.
He answered me that no ,but that I would most likely have to return to Germany in order to obtain a visa.
Well, planed everything in advance and it turned out like this, without my fault.
I mean, if an express letter goes from Japan to Germany, wouldn’t it be normal to assume it will arrive in the whole of Germany at nearly the same
time? Not I have the trouble for them being slow (it’s an EXPRESS, certified letter, for GOD’s sake!)
It is difficult to express my utmost HATRED for the DEUTSCHE POST.
ever since you’ve gotten privatized words can not express how slow you’ve turned.
I wonder if you could be any slower, I guess not, and for this, Deutsche Post, I salute you.